This past month I attended the evermore popular and competitive convention, Creative Talent Network Expo, in Burbank, CA. It is a young convention, this year being only it’s third. Though there are other conventions like ComicCon, WonderCon, and Ape to fulfill the needs of West coast comic nerds and illustrators, CTNX is dedicated exclusively to the world of animation and anything within the industry.
Along with some friends of mine from my alma mater, CCA, we drove down through the hazy valley of central California agriculture wasteland, breaking through to fresh air again only shortly before arriving to our destination. It was my first time to Southern California, and LA proper stood ground to be all I had heard and imagined it to be.
The convention itself was a blast. By its third year, CTN had attracted an overwhelming amount of visitors. The convention room was packed with students, graduates and others nervous looking folk getting in line for portfolio reviews with the few studios that were out on the floor. I’d say the artists and exhibitors with booths out on the floor had been in the industry for a few years already- no rookies here. Given the large crowd, the exhibitors were very friendly and accessible. The most worthwhile conversations I had were from walking around and just asking a question from the artist doing a demo, or representing a studio.
In addition to the convention floor, there were also demonstrations, panel discussions, and workshops. The demos were great because they were ongoing and anyone could walk up to an artist and ask technical advise. Like I did with Kent Melton:
The most rewarding and best talks I heard were from the workshops. They were smaller events within the convention, which took place in small rooms that could only fit 20 or so people, so of course they reservations ended early. I did get to attend two workshops, however packed they were. The first was a talk from Bluesky sculptor, Michael DeFeo, about the translation between a two-dimentional design and a 3d sculpt. This has been a curiosity of mine as I do love to sculpt and have gotten my hand dirty with clay form time to time. There are many technical obstacles to climb when trying to replicate a drawing into a sculpt. Michael broke down every step, and it was great seeing the way he thinks, as well as his collaboration with other artists and designers, i.e. the work he and Peter de Seve had worked on together for the film, Ice Age.
Another great talk and workshop was called “Hand drawn Animation: Dead or Alive?” Kind of a sad title, but it was delivered beautifully by long time animator, Mike Nyguyen. Such an honest and open-hearted guy, he shared his love for his work, animation, and illustrated his speech with great clips from Ansel Adams documentary, an interview with Joseph Cambell, and excerpts from old animated Disney and Miyazaki films.
All in all, a great trip and one I hope to do again! We also hit up Disneyland for my friend and animator Steve’s big birthday.